NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — In a historic decision aimed at overcoming gender inequality in the armed forces, India's first woman defense minister has approved a plan to induct 800 women combatants in the Indian Army. Sources told Sputnik that the newly appointed defense minister, who is also India's first woman to independently handle the position, approved the plan that was pending since long, the same day it was laid before her.
"A decision has been taken to introduce women in ranks starting from Corps of Military Police. With the increasing need for investigation against gender specific allegations and crime, a necessity was felt to introduce women in Corps of Military Police," a defense ministry official informed on Friday after the decision.
Currently, women are allowed in select areas such as medical, legal, educational, signals and engineering wings of the Army.
"The proposal is being finalized for induction of approximately 800 women with yearly intake of 52 per year," official added.
Corps of Military Police plays a crucial role in policing cantonments and army establishments, preventing a breach of rules and regulations by soldiers, maintaining movement of soldiers as well as logistics during peace and war.
The Indian Army had been citing operational concerns and logistical shortcomings for keeping women out of combat roles. The Indian Air Force, however, allowed women to assume fighter positions in 2016 and inducted three women fighter pilots. The Indian Navy is also considering the idea of deploying women on warships.